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From Hispanic, to Catholic ministry
By Luis Soto
In 1987, the bishops of the United States wrote a document called “Hispanic Presence, Challenge and Commitment.” In that document, for the first time, and ever since then, the bishops stressed that Hispanics are a blessing for the Church in the United States—and I believe it.
Three years ago during the archdiocese’s annual Living the Catholic Faith conference, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., came to the stage to greet the many Hispanics in attendance, a number far greater than the attending non-Hispanics. I interpreted for him and I will never forget his words. He said:
“You are new blood for the Church. You are new life for the Church. And you are a blessing for the Church.” Everyone stood up and started clapping at his words. After a few seconds of silence, he added: “Now, you have to prove it.” No one clapped anymore, because he had raised an uncomfortable but essential question: How can Hispanics become an actual blessing for the Church and not a dividing force?
In the Denver Archdiocese we have undertaken the task of developing a vision for Church ministry that integrates Hispanics, promotes Hispanic values and transforms Hispanic ministry, but that also allows the mainstream Church to be transformed by the richness of Hispanic presence. We call this initiative, “One Family Under God.” Through this initiative, we seek to develop a new vision for Hispanic ministry that is no longer “Hispanic” ministry only, but deeply and inclusively Catholic ministry. We need to move from an “ethnic” ministry to a “Catholic” ministry—in other words a universal ministry.
If we continue emphasizing our ethnic differences, we will never serve our Church in the way Jesus Christ expects and invites us to serve. Our source of unity with the larger diocesan Church is our common Catholic faith. Too many Hispanics see their Catholic faith as a tradition only, as a cultural remembrance. It is by offering Catholic ministry—and inviting, encouraging and holding accountable non-Hispanics to do the same—that we can overcome this problem of division.